You’d be surprised how much used car parts are worth….

May 20, 2008 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lewisville police arrested two men on Monday for stealing catalytic converters from Toyota 4 Runners.

 

 

This is from the news release:

 

“The Lewisville Police Department arrested Christopher David Cox (22) and Gregg Allen Fields (41) for felony theft (over $1,500) for the theft of six catalytic converters.   The converters were taken off of vehicles in Lewisville apartment complexes.”

 

 

 

Why 4 Runners? Well, the vehicle is higher up, making it easier to crawl under and cut out. Also, they’re worth about $1600 each!

 

 

Why steal them? They have small amounts of platinum in them.

But, police say unauthorized cracking open of a catalytic converter is a federal crime, because of EPA standards.

 

Either way, it’s a no-win situation.

 

 

Advertisements

It’s hard to pay bills in jail

May 13, 2008 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , ,

I got a chance to tour a mansion today that’s for sale. The seller? The U-S Marshals.

The house was seized as part of an illegal online prescription drug business.

The house is not complete, but is still impressive.  It’s 22,000 square feet, has seven bedrooms, seven full baths, four half baths, an indoor pool, three stories, granite countertops, etc, etc, etc.

Check out the front entrance:

This is one of the bathrooms, with a view from the tub.

But there are plenty of things missing. Check out one of the living areas. It looks nice, until you get closer:

The fireplace looks great, but the marble floor is not finished. When the Marshals took control of the house, construction came to a halt. Contractors just left everything as is.

Here’s the kitchen, but since the electric wiring isn’t finished, nothing works.

I found one of these tucked in a closet. Well, not really tucked in. It’s hard to hide.

This safe is pretty big. At least four feet tall. The person who was building the house is a convicted felon. I found it a bit funny that even criminals feel the need for a safe in their own homes…from other criminals.

The house is valued at 5 million, and opening bids start out at 617,000 dollars.

 

Ending Injustice by Changing the Law

May 8, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Photojournalist Steve Stewart and I made a day trip to Austin.

Our story : cover the meeting between six Dallas County men recently freed from prison by DNA evidence. 

Six of the nine men speaking were from Dallas County. The other three were from Travis County (Austin) and El Paso Counties.

Charles Chatman, Brandon Moon, James Woodard

The most recent man freed from prison was James Lee Woodard.  He spent 27 years locked up for a murder he didn’t commit. I asked him how he was doing since he got out. “Eight days. It’s been eight days.”  He’d been counting the days since he was freed. But he wanted to speak to lawmakers about what he went through, and what needs to change. I asked him about changes he’s noticed since he’s been out. He talked about how people dress differently, how downtown Dallas has grown, and how cell phones weren’t around when he went to prison.

It’s amazing what things have changed in that time when you stop and think about it.

Covering the meeting also gave me a chance to talk to the chief counsel for the Innocence Project of TexasJeff Blackburn.  Blackburn was the lawyer for the accused in Tulia, Texas. Like the exonerated men, I asked him what should be done to prosecutors who care more about convictions than the truth?  He told me “Crooked prosecution, you can fix that. You can create criminal penalties for prosecutors that act like crooks.” It might not be what a district attorney wants to hear, but it makes sense to Blackburn and the recently exonerated men.

Blackburn doesn’t shy away from talking about the current state of our criminal justice system, but he says he willing to work to change it. He told me “We can honestly say to ourselves right now that our system deserves little faith or credit, but the very fact that we’re here today shows that there is at least a chance at change.”

I also got to talk and shoot an NBC 5 web exclusive with  Dallas County DA Craig Watkins.  I asked him about the criticism about spending money to work on exonerating these men. He says it’s part of bringing trust back into the legal system. He also said while freeing innocent men it the right thing to do, it leaves more work for the system, as in, finding the guilty person who really committed the crime.

He mentioned how other DA’s across Texas need to look into exonerating innocent prisoners. Watkins told me the recent exonerations aren’t an indictment of the legal system, but a chance to show progress in fixing a flawed system.

Craig Watkins:”This is a double edged sword. We can free the innocent and convict the guilty. And they should embrace it.”

 I know this is a long post, but it’s a story that needs to be told.

These exonerations can have a huge ripple effect.  With trust of the legal system comes cooperation with authorities, with cooperation comes catching the guilty, and with catching the guilty comes real justice.

People like James Lee Woodard deserve that.

 

Weather Watch 4

May 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Lyle and I drove through the storm that created a tornado warning in Collin County.

At the time, it was just some moderate wind, 15-20 mph,  and big rain drops. As it passed us, it ballooned up and gained power.

This is the view from the backside:

Directly over us was a rain cloud, but in the distance is the storm cell over Collin County. It moved fast, and got stronger in just a few minutes. It acts as a good reminder of just how fast the weather can change in North Texas.

Weather Watch Part 3

May 7, 2008 at 5:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

While the storms were rolling in, we drove past Lewisville Lake. The rain had picked up, as did the wind. That’s when we saw this:

These boaters we running for the shore. Smart move.

The weather can really pull a fast one on anyone trying to have fun on the lake. Any sort of wind can create choppy waters, which could easily turn a boater into a swimmer.

It’s getting warm outside, so if you’re going to head to the lake, check the weather.  Or, check out m.nbc5i.com on your cell phone if you’re not by a tv or the web.  Better to be safe than sorry.

 

Weather Watch Part 2

May 7, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Apparently, I attract tornadoes.

Since I’ve moved back to North Texas, there have been a group of them. The most recent was the EF 1 in Canton.

But I’ve never covered a tornado in Storm Tracker H3. For some reason, when I’m in the H3, tornadoes chicken out.

So if you see this in front of your car…

there’s a threat of severe weather in the area. If I’m in it, there is a good chance there won’t be any tornadoes.

Weather Watch

May 7, 2008 at 11:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Today, photojournalist Lyle Davis and I are in the NBC 5 Storm Tracker H3.

It’s equipped with a camera, a small TV monitor and a web-ready computer. If the weather acts up, we’ll stream live. Just log on to our website to watch. And if you have any questions about the NBC 5 Storm Tracker H3, just shoot me an email at omar.villafranca@nbcuni.com

 

Arts, crafts and tornados

May 2, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

The merchandise was flying off the shelves in Canton, but not because of a great sale.

An EF-1 tornado tore through the main market at Canton’s First Monday Trade Days at around 8:30am on Friday.

Considering how many people were already there setting up, it’s surprising no one was seriously hurt.

The tree on the left is right in front of the main gated area.

The white truck with the busted window belongs to one of the vendors. Everyone I talked to told me they did not hear the sirens in Canton until AFTER the tornado stomped through.

Buddy Holden owns (owned) this van, until a very large tree crunched it. It almost looks like the tree karate chopped it.

Buddy told me he was drinking coffee with his sister and brother-in-law in the van next to his when the tree smashed his vehicle. Since he didnt hear the sirens, he didn’t know what was coming his way. He wasn’t in his van, or he might have been killed.

The best part of this story was how the people who make their living at the First Monday Trade Days cleaned up, and went back to work. One woman told me she can’t let a little wind stop her business.  A shopped told me a little tornado wasn’t going to stop her from shopping.

Luckily, it was just a little tornado.

360 Billion Dollars….To go.

May 1, 2008 at 11:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , ,

Fort Worth police arrested Charles Ray Fuller, saying he tried to cash a check for 360 Billion Dollars.

That’s BILLION, with a B. 360 Billion has 10 zeroes…count them :360,000,000,000.

Just to give you an idea of what kind of money we’re talking about, 360 Billion dollars would buy 360 of these:

That’s the new Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium.

Or, that kind of money could buy 10 of these :

A Biofuel Ferrari.

Or a Maybach.

Or a Bugatti Veyron

Then with all that money, you could do this to all of them:

And then buy 10 more of each… and still have more money left over than this guy.

 

I talked to Mr. Fuller on the phone. He told me he didn’t try to cash the check. But police say he did. We’ll let the courts decide.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.